A sweeping and spell-binding account of India’s transition to independence and its eventual partition into two separate states – India and Pakistan.
It may have been published almost 40 years ago, but its scope and the undeniable research that went into its writing make it a compulsory read for anyone wanting to understand the foundations of modern India and Pakistan.
British colonialism and ham-handedness is dealt with in an unflinching way, while the subcontinent’s indigenous leaders are never portrayed as either infallible heroes on the one hand or as helpless pawns on the other hand. The descriptions of the colossal human tragedy that followed partition is heart rending and a reminder of the inherent dangers of jingoism and political manipulation of populist agendas. The central characters of Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi are depicted within the context of the era and never come across as mere historical paper men. The reader experiences their agonies, doubts, intransigence and will power as they battle to contain the unfolding human drama. At the same time, small but pivotal players are made part of the story, giving the reader a deeper insight into the forces at play.
Political thriller, social drama and historical narrative, this is a book to treasure for its insights and fluid account of one of the twentieth century’s most tumultuous events. Recommended reading for gap year students tripping it up in Goa or Imodium chomping retirees on a 10 day package holiday to the sights of Rajasthan and the Taj Mahal.